It’s simple: soap and water

I ran day before yesterday for the first time in two weeks. Two miles. Two little miles. I felt great out on the road, but also felt it the next day in my legs. I had gotten out of the hospital six days before that, one of those unexpected detours life throws at you. But Wednesday I felt strong and didn’t want to miss a window.

Long story short: I caught a bacterial infection. Longer: It involved four and a half days in the hospital hooked up to an IV getting antibiotics that made me weak and nauseated. Half my face inflated like a balloon giving me a constant headache. That required painkillers, which also made my stomach roil. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

Scared the hell out of me and my family. The scariest thing? I’ll never know where it came from. Sure, the doctors have theories. It came from daycare. It came from the YMCA. It came from a doorknob or a computer keyboard. For all I know, it came from the Black Lagoon. It doesn’t matter. What mattered is it came with a vengeance.

The best defense, the doctors say, is washing your hands. Thing is, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t fastidious about washing my hands. And now that I’m a dad, I must wash my hands dozens of times a day. I often say about driving, I’m damn good at it (years of pizza delivery experience) but it’s the other people on the road I worry about. Same maxim applies here. It only takes interacting with one person who hasn’t washed their hands, or surface not sufficiently cleaned, to get such a horrid infection.

I try not to be preachy or freaky about hand washing, but I see it not happen all the time in public restrooms. I see it not happen at work and other places. Saturday, Mrs. Blocletters and I saw “Fela!” in Detroit. Before the musical (which was fantastic) I went to the restroom. Five men were there when I went in. In my time there, each one of them left without washing. After what I’d been through that week, I wanted to punch them: one sucker punch to the kidneys for each antibiotic my doctors had to try before they found one that this infection responded to.

So, my PSA for the day: If you don’t wash your hands, particularly after the restroom, that’s just nasty. Think about it. You touch your junk. You touch the doorknob on the way out. You go back to your keyboard. You shake hands.

Have you seen Contagion?

It only takes 30 seconds. Do it.


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